Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prime's billing problems go national

Last night PBS's NewsHour aired a report that Prime has a systematic practice of upcoding, over-diagnosing patients in order to get higher Medicare reimbursement rates. Great for Prime's profits, terrible for the American taxpayer.

From the transcript...

JEFFREY BROWN: And speaking of Medicare, America spends more than $500 billion every year on Medicare for elderly patients. Now, as the cost of health care rises, many are examining exactly how that money is spent.

Our partners at the Center for Investigative Reporting have conducted a yearlong probe into one prominent hospital chain's Medicare costs. In an online report released Sunday, the center's California Watch project examined whether the chain is attracting the toughest medical cases, or is exaggerating conditions in order to increase revenues.

Our version of that story is reported by Lance Williams of California Watch.

LANCE WILLIAMS, California Watch: California-based Prime Healthcare Services buys financially troubled hospitals and turns them around. So when Prime purchased Alvarado Hospital in San Diego last year, Anneke Doty knew there would be changes, especially after a meeting with the new owner, Dr. Prem Reddy.

ANNEKE DOTY, former Alvarado Hospital employee: It was very much there's a new sheriff in town.

See the full report at California Hospital Chain Eyed for Possibly Bilking Medicare for Millions.

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